Diana Brock Publishing

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Thompson Educational Publishing - Healthy Active Living

Why are you interested in food allergies?

Usually when it comes to any medical issue, we become interested in it and knowledgeable about it out of sheer necessity; when it affects us personally. I have three boys. My middle son, Evan, has life-threatening food allergies.

How did you find out that your son has food allergies?

Whenever the subject of allergies comes up, this is the question that I am asked the most often.

The Short Answer
The hard way.

The Long Answer
When Evan was 21 months old, I let him try peanut butter for the first time. The year was 1994. Back then, it was generally acceptable to introduce peanut (and other highly-allergenic foods) to babies at the age of 12 months. Evan was almost two, and in hindsight it is a strange thing, but I didn’t want him to have peanut butter. I had given it to his older brother soon after the first birthday, but for some inexplicable reason, I did not want to introduce it to Evan. However, Evan really wanted to taste it. In those days, his older brother was eating it for breakfast every day, and Evan would beg – daily – to have some. I kept putting off the inevitable by telling him that he could have it when he became older. On a dark February morning that I will never forget, I decided to push aside my seemingly irrational hesitation and I let him have his first taste of peanut butter.

I put a tiny amount of peanut butter – about the size of a grain of rice – on the tip of his little finger. He licked it. That’s all it took. Within moments, he became extremely sick. He started screaming; he broke out in hives; tears poured out of eyes that were swelling shut and he vomited violently. He was struggling to breathe. He was so sick that I couldn’t leave him to get to a phone to call 911. And then he went limp in my arms. It was the most frightening and most horrible moment of my life, but thankfully my worst nightmare had a happy ending.

Why did you write The Best Audience?

I have always had a passion for writing and I love children’s books. I firmly believe that awareness and education are the keys to keeping our anaphylactic children safe. I wanted to create a tool with which other people could educate children about allergies.

Story time is a very special time in a child’s day. It is an unparalled learning opportunity and experience, one through which children often learn best.

Why is the book called The Best Audience?

I chose this title because my target audience for this book – Kindergarten to Grade 3 – has always been my best audience throughout the years that I have been speaking to students about allergies. Young children are so interested and they care so much.

Who is the book for?

The Best Audience is for many people. It is for:

  • Fellow “allergy parents”, who work hard to raise allergy awareness and to advocate on behalf of our children;
  • Primary school teachers and librarians, who go above-and-beyond to educate students and parents in an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy;
  • Anaphylactic children, who at a very young age need to learn (i) how to manage their life-threatening allergies; and (ii) to juggle their extra responsibilities;
  • Classmates of food-allergic children, who willingly make food sacrifices every day during the school day in order to keep their friends safe.


Why is it important to teach young children about food allergies?

Anaphylaxis is a growing health concern. It is a well-documented fact that allergies are on the rise in North America. There are many challenges to keeping food-allergic children safe in all settings, but especially at school. Naturally, food is an important part of daily life. Today, it is quite common for students to be eating lunches and snacks at their desks in their classrooms. This practice presents extra difficulties with regard to safety. Successful management requires the understanding and cooperation of the whole community.

Children love to learn and have a seemingly endless capacity to absorb new concepts. This eagerness to learn is beautifully coupled with their keen desire to accommodate the special needs of their friends and classmates. It all starts with education. It is the key.







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